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Adventures in Faith

HOW MANY? (Part 1)

My Thoughts. . .

Monday July 15, 2019

ONE?

And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit” (Mark 5:2).

And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.”  (Luke 8:27).

 TWO!

There met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.”  (Matthew 8:28).

All three passages are about the same event.  Matthew mentions two men.  Mark and Luke reveal only one.  So, what is the correct number?  One or two?  If there were two, why do Mark and Luke say “one”?  If it was only one man, why does Matthew tell us it was two?  Which is guilty of writing an account from his fallible memory rather than from the Spirit’s inspiration?  How can all three be correct if there is a contradiction in the total?  If all three are correct, why doesn’t the Spirit explain to the reader how this was possible?  Did God leave a logical explanation up to us?  If so, what if the wrong explanation sounds more logical that the one that is the truth?

Some attempt to harmonize these three entrees by:

1). Ignoring Matthew and accepting Mark and Luke.  Others ignore Mark and Luke and accept Matthew.

2). Some believe a later scribe mistakenly putting “two” rather than “one.”

3). Some believe Mark, Luke, or a scribe mistakenly entered one rather than two.

4). Some think two writers outweigh one, because two inspired writers are better than one.

5). Some believe Mark and Luke focused upon the fiercer of the two and mentioned only him because it suited their purpose and those being written to.

6). Some understand that it was a common practice to leave out details when addressing a specific audience.  This also included focusing on a specific number.

Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience.  Luke addressed a Greek population.  Mark penned his account to Roman readers.  John wrote to the Jew and Gentile, completely leaving out this event.

Even in these three accounts, details in one are not given in another.  The demons are asked their name in Mark and Luke, but not in Matthew.  Matthew refers to both men being “exceeding fierce” but the expression is not found in the other two.  Mark mentions the individual cutting himself with stones which is not given in Luke or Matthew.  Mark mentions the man worshiping Jesus, the other two do not do so.  If we find majority details that are lacking in one or both of the others, do we write it off as error?

In the Old Testament Moses informs us that the Jews left Egypt after four hundred and thirty years (Exodus 12:40-41).  When Stephen made his defense before the Freedmen synagogue, he said “four hundred.”  Inspired writers saw no problem with rounding off those numbers.  Stephen left off “thirty years,” yet he was not killed because of that subtraction.  It was a known way of speaking.  Paul, in one of his speeches gives the number four hundred and fifty years about another subject.  Yet, in the Old Testament the numbers are different.  The difference in count is over the beginning place taken by each writer.  If this is not known by the reader, he thinks there is a contradiction, or a mistake has been made by someone.

When Luke writes about the responses on Pentecost day in Acts 2:41, he says “about three thousand.”  Although no one knows the exact number, someone else could have said, “just over three thousand,” or about that number.  Such numbering did not result in readers accusing the author of introducing error.  First century writers didn’t seem to be as number conscience as we are.

– To be continued.

 

HOW MANY? (Part 2)

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, July 18, 2019

In the previous article we looked at several passages in both Testaments concerning the differences in numbering.  For example, there seems to be a contradiction between Mark 5:2 and Luke 8:27 with Matthew 8:28 over the number of men among the tombs.  The answer explaining the differences lies in the purpose and people the authors are addressing.  Their accounts are in harmony with their purpose.

In our fellowship, the expression, “God only has to say something once for it to be so,” is well known and usually agreed upon.  This means that a statement may be found in several passages in the New Testament while a single one adds to the equation which the majority did not address.  This addition appears to be a contradiction to that majority.

1) Does that mean the majority statements are acceptable, but not the minority one?

2) Does that mean the majority passages negates the lone passage that adds something they did not mention?

3) Does that mean the majority passages are essential, but the lone statement must be ignored since it doesn’t harmonize with the interpretation placed upon the majority ones?

How many times does God have to say something for it to be so?

The word “faith” is found two hundred and forty-five times.  The expression “repent” only twenty-four.  Does that make “faith” essential but “repentance” negligible?   Wouldn’t one’s faith be void if he neglected the fewer passages on repentance?  Yet, some will use that type of argumentation to reject a subject if it doesn’t fit their philosophy.  Some will reject a command if it is not found each time faith is mentioned.  How many times must God say something before it is so?

Have you ever been in an assembly where the presiding individual was confused and offered a prayer for the fruit of the vine first, rather than for the bread?  I’ve known of folks who refused to partake because it was done “backwards.”  They would return Sunday night and partake “the right way.”  I’ve also known of some who accused the individual of destroying the Lord’s supper by doing it wrong.  Was it done wrong?  How many times must God say something for it to be so?

If a single passage outlines a different sequence than given by forty passages, wouldn’t that be God’s way of showing that process was not limited to the way some had determined the forty passages taught?  In the following paragraphs Paul states this about the Lord’s supper.

CUP BEFORE BREAD:1) The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? 2) The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”  (1 Corinthians 10:16 NKJV).

Notice Paul’s placement of each item:  1. The cup is mentioned first.  2. The bread is given second.

DIFFERENCES

BREAD BEFORE THE CUP: “And as they were eating, Jesus 1) took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”  Then He 2) took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”  (Matthew 26:26-28),

BREAD BEFORE THE CUP:And as they were eating, Jesus 1) took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”  Then He 2) took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.  And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.”  (Mark 14:22-24).

CUP BEFORE AND AFTER THE BREAD: “Then He 1) took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  And He 2) took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  Likewise He also 3) took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”  (Luke 22:17-20).

BREAD BEFORE THE CUP:  For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed 1) took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  In the same manner He also 2) took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”  For as often as you 1) eat this bread and 2) drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”  (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

  1. Is Paul and the Holy Spirit guilty of a textual error by listing the cup before the bread in 1 Corinthians 10:16?
  2. Is this a man-made addition in later manuscripts which are not in the earlier ones?
  3. Is this an example of a sequential ordering due to translating that verse from Greek into English?
  4. Is there evidence that 1 Corinthians 10:16 is not to be taken seriously, but 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 is because it is backed up by Matthew, Mark, and Luke?

It seems strange that Paul seemingly contradicts himself in 1 Corinthians 10:16 by remaining in harmony with Matthew and Mark in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.  On the other hand, Matthew and Mark seemed to contradict Luke’s two cups by eliminating the doctor’s first one but keeping the second cup.  Are Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:16 and the doctor in Luke 22:17-20 in agreement?  Since Paul put a cup before the bread in 1 Corinthians 10, is Matthew and Mark contradicting him?  Is this God’s way of pointing out the order we have created and made paramount, is not as important to Him as it us to us?  Also, Luke’s statement is different from Matthew, Mark, and Paul’s (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), since the doctor has the first cup BEFORE the bread, and the second cup AFTER the bread.  Yet, Luke and Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 10:16 is in harmony.  The statement Luke connects with the first cup, Matthew and Mark assign to the second one of Luke with the tax collector and Barnabas’ nephew mentioning only one.  Is there a contradiction?  Are Matthew, Mark, and Paul focusing on the last cup because Jesus used it to portray his blood?  Luke gives us the last two of four cups used during the Passover feast.  The others leave it out, just as John completely left the entire communion out of his account.  Since John omitted the Lord’s supper, would that mean the others were wrong for mentioning it?  Did it mark John as the one who was wrong because he did not mention it?  John did mention foot washings, but the others are silent on that action.  Is John in error for substituting foot washings for the Lord’s supper?  Or, is John not adding and deleting, but giving another of Jesus actions at the meal?  In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul points out that we are not restricted to bread first and the cup second.  He switches it and no sin is committed.  It is also a warning marker against making up doctrinal rules which are not taught in scriptures!

God has to mention something only once for it to be so.  Rather than ignore the differences, why not accept the thought that Paul may be showing us that when the one who presides puts the cup before the bread, he has not committed the unpardonable sin?  His actions are God’s way of making us take another look at our misconceptions and recognize how easy it is to make a tradition into a law of God.  It is a wake-up call that God only has to say something once for it to be so!

IS CHANGE BAD?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Have you ever wondered why individuals who lived during Old and New Testament times did things which we refuse to follow today?  When is a practice of the past not wrong for that generation, but it would be foolish to continue it today?  In fact, if we did it their way, we would find ourselves in conflict with our legal system!  It might raise a few religious eyebrows too!  Practices are discontinued and a change takes place that is wise due to the passing of time.  Some biblical commands are tied in with a cultural practice predominant in the time it was written.  Culture changes.  The principle of the command may not change but cultural example used to perform it may be drastically different.

Abraham sent a slave to Nahor to find Isaac a wife.  The slave asked God to bring a virgin to the watering place to speak to him and give him and his camels water.  Keep in mind that virgin girls had social limits placed upon them in regard to such social meetings.  Our society would not be familiar with those taboos.  Isaac’s distant relative appeared.  When she finished giving water to the animals, the slave asked about lodging.  She introduced him to her parents.  When he met them, he explained the purpose of his trip and why their daughter fit the requirements his master expected him to fulfill.  Rebekah was to be given as a wife to Isaac, a man she had never met.  Several days later they left to journey about 750 miles back home to Abraham and Isaac.  Would you trust your beloved daughter to such a stranger under those circumstances today?  When Isaac saw the camels and Rebekah found out who he was, she dismounted.  Scripture states, “Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife.” (Genesis 24:67 KJV).

Isaac saw Rebekah for the first time when she dismounted.  How many camels have you ridden lately to travel to marry someone you’ve never met?  Isaac did not date Rebekah so she and he could become better acquainted with one another.  Neither knew the other’s bad habits or unusual quirks.  They did not discuss the pros and cons of marrying one another.  He had no opportunity to “fall in love” with her nor she with him.  Both married complete strangers.  Both married a distant relative.  Neither had the privilege or opportunity to decide who they wanted to marry or not marry.  They did not plan a honeymoon.  They did not speak of their future.  Isaac did not go to the nearest Court House and pay for a marriage license.  He did not summons his favorite preacher to perform the ceremony.  A wedding ceremony was never mentioned.  By-the-way, have you ever lived in a tent?  Rebekah apparently goes from living in a house to dwelling in a tent.  Wouldn’t that be backward progress?  Who today would want to exchange places with either one of them?

Ladies, if someone showed up at your parent’s house looking for a wife for his employer’s son and the employee thought you would fill that void, would you have viewed that whole scenario as being “so romantic” and your dreams coming true?  Would this be the answer to your future happiness?  Prince charming would not ride into your life on a white horse, you would hop off a camel into his!  One day you’re doing normal things a young lady does and a few days later you’re wondering if your dream is coming true or a nightmare is about to be revealed.  You find yourself riding off into the sunset on a camel on a 750-mile trip to nowhere, to marry a no body, who is related to your parents that you have never met.  They even waved goodbye to you as if this is the best thing that could happen to you.  When you arrived in your future mate’s country, he meets you for the first time, and sweeps you off your feet by taking you to his mother’s tent.  By that time, would you be thinking of giving your parents a few things to think about?  If you were Isaac, would you be rolling your eyes a lot and wanting to have a serious discussion with your folks?

Ladies, if your folk’s Romeo took you into his mother’s tent in order for you to become his partner in life, would you go without questions, complaints, or hesitation?  Would you be wondering how well you will get along with your new husband as well as your new in-laws?  Would one of your questions be, “How long is it going to take me to fall in love with this country bumpkin”?

With our twenty-first century cultural views, would this four-thousand-year-old system impress you?  Would you want dad and mom picking out a mail-order bride for you, or a distant relative as your spouse?  Without the marriage license and validating ceremony, would you feel married?  Would it cause you to think of yourself as a “common-law wife, or as a man to think of yourself as a “common-law” husband?  Would you consider yourself to be married “in the eyes of God” without the marriage license and the following ceremony conducted by a Judge, Justice of the Peace, or minister to sign off on it?

Whereas Isaac and Rebekah’s union was blessed by the laws of the land, produce happiness with each set of parents, and was in harmony with the wishes of God Almighty in that day, would their practice and joy be welcomed or experienced by most in ours?

Culture changes.  With that change substitutions may be required.  We don’t greet one another with a holy kiss today but substitute a handshake.  Women don’t wear hats into the church’s assemblies today.  Most people aren’t immersed in a lake, river, or pond anymore.  The Lord’s supper is not served in loaf form and passed among partakers with each breaking off a piece while folks are sitting around a table.  Church buildings, which are a necessary expedient today, weren’t in existence in the first and possibly second centuries.  We use the word “worship” in ways never utilized by first century saints.  Change?  It has been happening since the first century.  Being human, we don’t always identify those changes correctly nor appreciate them when they are introduced.

WHAT GOD’S INDWELLING MEANS!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, July 8, 2019

Paul cried out saying,

But there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.  In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin.  So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature?”  (Romans 7:23-24).

There are two masters that are interested in your soul.  The Christian desires to serve God.  The flesh desires slavery to fleshly whims.  The flesh or “old nature” has a love affair with our imperfections.  Our tendency to sin has the capability of robbing us of assurance, hope, joy, comfort, and peace by convincing us that heaven is a hopeless goal.  We live with those fleshly voices every day.  Only the grave will silence their call.  So, Paul lays it on the table with, “Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in!”  Judas solved his by hanging himself.  Is that the answer?  God indwells the saint.  Yet some believe that a single sin makes one homeless and that his ownership reverts back to Satan!   It is believed that our imperfections regularly keep us visiting the devil rather than remaining with the Lord!  If so, what is our answer to Paul’s question?  How can I keep God indwelling in me when I am an imperfect individual?  Paul asked the question, so let Paul answer it.

Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature?  Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. HE HAS SET ME FREE.  So there is NOW NO CONDEMNATION awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus.”  (Romans 7:24-8:1 Emphasis mine, RH).

How is that FREEDOM possible?  Isn’t it because God indwells His HOLY temple?  One that He continually cleanses by His grace through the blood of Jesus!?  Look again at several translations of 1 Corinthians 3:17.

the temple of God is holy, and SUCH ARE YE.” (ASV).

the temple of God is holy, and THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE.”  (NASV).

For God’s temple is holy, and THAT TEMPLE YOU ARE.”  (RSV).

for God’s temple is sacred, and YOU ARE THAT TEMPLE.”  (NIV).

For the temple of God is holy, WHICH TEMPLE YOU ARE.”  (NKJV).

God’s temple sanctuary is holy, and YOU ARE GOD’S TEMPLE SANCTUARY.”  (IEB).

God INDWELLS you.  God is HOLY.  He is IN His HOLY TEMPLE.  A Christian is THAT TEMPLE!  Jesus took ALL our sins upon himself on the cross.  He bestows upon us God’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  God makes us RIGHT.  The HOLY dwelling place of God is kept HOLY by His HOLY presence!  God ADDS us to the body of Christ.  Jesus is the head of that body.  His body is HOLY.  His body is sinless.  That’s why Paul said Jesus has made that FREEDOM possible.  So, REJOICE!  You have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and God MADE you and me His HOLY dwelling place!

THE FUTURE OF A MISTAKE!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Every mistake you make has a future.  It may be a good or a bad one.  Despite the outcome or consequences, it is still your mistake.  Sometimes it is bad because it is accepted in the wrong way.  I’ve had people to ask me after a sermon, “What did you mean when you said. . .?”  The best reply is, “What did it mean to you?”  This allows me to compare what the person thought I said with what I actually stated.  Sometimes an apology is needed, not because something was said to hurt the individual, but because it probably could have been worded differently so it would not be misunderstood.  James talks about the tongue and how it can cause trouble (James 3:1-2 NKJV).  A mistake may be innocent, but it still has a future, and some consequences!

One’s actions may be misunderstood.  The action within itself may not be wrong, but the error is found in the interpretation placed upon that action.  When Paul returned to Jerusalem, James and the elders met with him (Acts 21:18).  They were concerned because some brethren thought he had “forsaken Moses” by teaching that Jews did not have to “circumcise their children nor walk according to the customs” (Acts 21:21).  Paul was not guilty, but some thought he was.  Their misunderstanding led them to be guilty of gossip and failing to talk with Paul personally.  This caused a problem which neither James nor the elders should have been burdened with (Matthew 18:15-17).  The consequences of their mistaken understanding forecasted Paul’s future.

To solve that problem, Paul was willing to go to the Temple with four Jewish brethren and pay for their sacrifice and service.  On the way he was recognized by the Jewish crowd.  Their mistake was in believing Paul was bringing an uncircumcised Greek into the Temple to defile it (Acts 21:29).  The commander of the Roman garrison saw the problem but made a mistake by arresting the wrong person.  The commander ordered Paul to be bound and scourged (v.24).  Paul revealed his Roman citizenship causing the commander to recognize his blundering mistake before it worsened (v.25).  This would lead to other events motivating Paul to make decisions that would weigh upon his future.

Paul’s mistake was not sinful.  The Jews requested that Paul be turned over to them to be tried by the Jewish counsel in Jerusalem.  Paul used his right as a Roman citizen and appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:11-12 NIV).  It appeared to be the best course of action under the circumstances.  However, after making his defense before Festus, the Roman Governor, he would have been released except for one problem.  Paul had appeal to Caesar.  Luke records this appeal’s decision on Festus and Agrippa’s part.

Festus said: ‘King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man!  The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer.  I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome.”  (Acts 25:24-25 NIV).

If Paul had waited about making that appeal, he would have been a free man and walked out of that Roman Court absolved of all charges against him.  His mistake, though innocent, was in making the appeal.  Governor Festus had no other choice than to send Paul to Rome to appear before the Emperor.  Isn’t it strange how such decisions can change the entire course of our life?  Innocent mistakes that seem to be the wisest choice at that time.  Innocent decisions that may even cause problems that would not have happened if the decision had been different?  Some might judge Paul for his decision, claiming he didn’t trust in God enough to wait.  Paul may have entertained such a thought himself.

It is true that Paul had opportunities to preach the Good News in Rome that would not have been available to him otherwise.  He would not have written that small letter to Philemon about Onesimus because he would not have been in Rome when Onesimus was there.  The Jewish council in Rome would not have gone to speak with him.  The Roman guards would not have heard the gospel.  The church in Rome would not have been strengthened by his presence.  The Emperor would not have had his opportunity to hear Paul’s teachings about Jesus.  God uses our mistakes, good or bad, innocent or guilty, to have His will done.  Paul’s mistake resulted in a good number of people celebrating because they were eternally benefited by his presence.  On the other hand, we sometimes beat ourselves to death with “what if” we had not made that decision, “but” decided differently?  Yes, our life could have been entirely different, and our influence and the influences upon us would have painted a different picture.  Isn’t that the story found in the movie, “A Wonderful Life”?

We all make mistakes.  We may not understand the “Why” to the outcome of some that we made.  However, God may use those mistakes to benefit you and thousands of others.  Paul’s mistakes did.

FORGIVEN OR FAILURE?

My Thoughts. . .
Monday, July 1, 2019

And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” (1 John 3:5-6 NKJV).

Paul told the error ridden Corinthian assembly, “You are the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27). Prior to that statement Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). In the following letter he stated, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The Corinthian congregation was:

1. The body of Christ in Corinth.
2. It was made up of individuals that had been immersed into that body of believers.
3. It was made up of members who were God’s new creation.
4. It was made up of folks that God had added to their number.

Since there is “no sin . . . in Him (in Jesus),” in spite of the multiple errors Paul was writing to correct them about, only one individual was to be withdrawn from by that assembly (1 Corinthians 5:1-11). Since John stated that members do “not sin,” but they were involved in sin, how could the body of Jesus be without sin? Wouldn’t all their error cause the body of Jesus to be grossly tainted with it? How can they remain “in Him” when John says “Whoever abides in Him does not sin“?

Some teach that one single sin, regardless of what it is, causes that person to lose his fellowship with God and be reunited as a member of Satan’s assembly. Although he loses his “saved” fellowship status, he continues 1) to be a child of God, 2) his immersion remains intact, 3) he may call upon God in repentance, and 4) his lost membership is renewed until the next infraction. The only ones found in fellowship with Jesus and the Father are those who have yet engaged in a single sin. Since one may ignorantly sin due to not knowing the action or thought is forbidden, some may be lost when they think they are saved. This leaves one with a group that is not sure if his membership is being restored or taken away.

How can one remain in the body of Christ, which Ephesians 1:22-23 states is the church, if one imperfection causes him to lose his fellowship with God? Who among those that “abides in Him” doesn’t sin? Since one sin equals guilt of all sins, “whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” If a single sin equals lost fellowship with God, how would his prior immersion be of any value since the sinner “has neither seen Him nor known Him“?

There are some who believe that in spite of one’s imperfections, his sins are not counted so Jesus’s body remains sinless (Romans 4:7-8). This sinless state was made possible by Jesus shedding His blood upon the cross. He paid it all! One dies to sin and is immersed into the sinless righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). The old ceases and the new prevails (2 Corinthians 5:17). Satan is defeated and Jesus is victorious!

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4).

In Christ:

1. We are freed from the power of sin.
2. We no longer have sin controlling our destiny.
3. Our sins were paid for and removed by Jesus= sacrifice.
4. Jesus fulfilled the law and satisfied those requirements that were against us.
5. He made it possible for us to be “Spirit” followers rather than children of “the flesh.”
6. We are no longer under condemnation.
7. We are in the Spirit and He resides within us (1 Corinthians 3:16-16; 6:19-20).
8. We are still in “the flesh,” therefore we continue to recognize that condition (1 John 1:8, 10).
9. Despite the weakness of the flesh, we continue our fellowship with Jesus whose blood keeps us cleansed (1 John 1:5, 7, 9).
10. As the redeemed, we continually recognize our sins, confessing that we are sinners, but also thank God for His continual cleansing in the blood of the Lamb (1 John 1:9).

WHAT IF YOUR FAITH IS VOTED OUT?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, June 24, 2019

Perhaps because I have lived through that history, I can see things which younger folks are blind to.  I was born before World War II.  The forties were part of my youthful history.  Nazi Germany hated Jews and blamed them for problems the nation had brought upon itself.  It was believed that a Nazi German belong to the superior Aryan race and Jews were sub-human and did not fit the mold.  A good Jew was a dead one.  Germany’s “Solution” was to annihilate all of them in Europe.  They were successful in murdering over six million.  At the end of the war, General Eisenhower had movies made of the death camps so the world would see the devastation and results of that hatred and never forget it.  Sadly, we have!  Here we are, sixty-four years later and that same hatred is being reborn in Europe and the United States.  However, it did not originate with the Nazi Socialist Party of Germany.  Its roots go deeper than that.  It originated as a family feud and was later clothed in religious thought.

This hatred originated between Abraham’s two sons.  One born to Hagar a handmaiden, and the other to Sarah, Abraham’s wife.  It continues to be played out in the middle East today.  The secular world may take sides without understanding the cause of that hatred and how it immerses them in its turmoil.   God promised Abraham that he and Sarah would be parents of a great nation.  Abraham and Sarah were old, and pregnancy wasn’t happening.  They, like many believers today, thought God needed their help in keeping His promise.  Sarah gave Hagar, her slave girl, to Abraham as a wife so she could bear him a son.  Hagar obliged by getting pregnant and giving him Ishmael as his male heir.   Jealousy motivated Sarah’s attitude and she had Hagar and Ishmael banned.  The Hatfield and McCoy type of feud began between those two half-brothers and continues to grow and fester to this day.  That growth intensified when Muhammad declared himself as the last great prophet of Allah in 622.  The Qu‘ran expresses Allah’s judgment upon all Jews.  Islamic teaching is that Allah commands that Islam rule the world under Sharia Law.  All who fight against that command are infidels and seal their ultimate fate.

All religions, which includes Christianity, are seen as heretical.  Christians are thought to be misguided people who believe in three rather than One God.  So, Christians are viewed as pagans.   Everyone will be given an opportunity to convert by declaring that “Allah is One and Muhammad is His prophet.”  If that profession of faith is not declared, the individual loses all of his rights.  If a non-Muslim does not submit to Islam, death may be his reward.

The world classifies militant Muslims as “terrorists.”  Yet, they are individuals who are willing to give their lives in defense of Allah’s plan for world conquest.  They are religious zealots.  Paradise is their reward for dying in defense of Allah.  Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, and some Christians do not understand why a Muslim is willing to blow himself up and taking infidels with him.  He is justified by Allah in taking their life.  He goes to Paradise.  They don’t!  They had their opportunity.  They forfeited their right to live by not submitting to Allah.   Terrorist who die for Allah’s cause are considered martyrs and heroes of their faith!  Their families are honored and supported.  It does not matter to them that infidels misunderstand nor wrongly classify their actions.  The ignorance of the infidel often works to their good and helps advance their cause.

Most Christians misunderstand Islam.  Each demand made by a Muslim, which is conceded by the Christian, is seen as a victory over the infidel.  Islam believes Abraham, Ishmael, the prophets, and Jesus were all Muslims.  The word “Muslim” means “one who submits to Allah.”  They believe Jesus was born to a virgin and was one of Allah’s great prophets.  They do not believe he was nor is the Son of God.  They do not believe he rose from the grave.  They believe Muhammad is the last great prophet and must be recognized as such by the world.

Most modern countries, including the USA, will eventually become Muslim, not by violence, but through birthrate.  In most modern nations the birthrate of its citizens is 1 to 2 children per household.  The average birthrate of a Muslim family is 5 to 8.  Through peaceful immigration and birthrate, in 15 to 20 years there will be enough Muslims in this and other countries to fill all political offices with their candidates.  The Constitutions of those countries will be voted out and Sharia Law will become Allah’s law for the world.

The day has already come when Christians in some nations are told to publicly deny their faith in Jesus as the Son of God or die.  The beginning of this demand has now reached our shores.

What is the confession of faith you, your spouse, children, grandchildren, relatives, friends, and neighbors will be making in the future?  Will your confession of Jesus be a whisper, a shout, or a necessary silence (Romans 10:10)?  That silence is being demanded already!

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE AFTER ALL!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Every mistake you make has a future.  It may be good or bad.  Despite the outcome or consequences, it is still your mistake.  Sometimes it is bad because it is accepted in the wrong way.  I’ve had people to ask me, “What did you mean when you said. . .?”  The best reply is, “What did it mean to you?”  This allows me to compare what the person thought I said with what I actually meant by what I said.  Sometimes an apology is needed, not because something was said to hurt the individual, but because it probably could have been worded differently so it would not be misunderstood.  James talks about the tongue and how it can cause trouble (James 3:1-2 NKJV).  A mistake may be innocent, but it still has its future!

One’s actions may be misunderstood.  The action within itself may not be wrong, but the error is found in the interpretation placed upon that action.  When Paul returned to Jerusalem, James and the elders met with him (Acts 21:18).  They were concerned because some brethren thought he had “forsaken Moses” by teaching that Jews did not have to “circumcise their children nor walk according to the customs” (Acts 21:21).  Paul was not guilty, but some thought he was.  Their misinterpretation led them to be guilty of gossip and a failure to talk with Paul.  This caused a problem which neither James nor the elders should have been burdened with.  Sin was in the camp due to a mistaken misunderstanding and failing to correct it properly, which was another mistake (Matthew 18:15-17).

To help solve that problem, Paul was willing to go to the Temple with four Jewish brethren and pay for their sacrifice and the Levitical service of the priest.  On the way he was recognized by a Jewish mob.  Their mistake was in believing Paul was bringing a uncircumcised Greek into the Temple to defile it (Acts 21:29).  The commander of the Roman garrison saw the problem but made a mistake by arresting the wrong individual.  The commander ordered Paul to be bound and scourged (v.24).  Paul identified himself as a Roman citizenship causing the commander to realize his blundering mistake (v.25).  This was the beginning of a later event where Paul would make his own.

Paul’s mistake was not sinful.  The Jews demanded that Paul be turned over to the Jewish counsel in Jerusalem for judgment.  Paul used his right as a Roman citizen and appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:11-12 NIV).  It appeared to be the best course of action at that time and under the circumstances.  However, after making his defense before Festus, the Roman Governor, he would have been released except for one problem.  Paul had appealed to Caesar.  Luke records how this influenced Festus’ decision.

Festus said: ‘King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man!  The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer.  I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome.”  (Acts 25:24-25 NIV).

If Paul had waited (some might say, “trusted in God”), he would have been a free man and walked out of that Roman Court absolved of all charges.  His mistake was in using his citizenship as his answer rather than trusting in prayer!  Governor Festus had no choice other than to honor Paul’s decision to appeal to the Emperor.  Isn’t it strange how innocent decisions can change the entire course of one’s life?  Innocent decisions that may cause problems that would not have happened if the decision had not been made?

It is true that Paul had opportunities to preach the Good News in Rome that would not have been available to him otherwise.  He would not have written that small letter to Philemon about Onesimus.  He would not have been in Rome when Onesimus was there.  The Jewish council in Rome would not have gone to speak with him.  The Roman guards would not have heard the gospel.  The church in Rome would not have been strengthened by his presence.  The Emperor would not have had his opportunity to hear Paul’s teachings about Jesus.  God uses our mistakes, good or bad, innocent or guilty, to have His will done.  Paul’s mistake resulted in a good number of people celebrating because they were eternally benefited by his presence.  On the other hand, we sometimes beat ourselves to death with “what if” we had not made that decision, “but” decided differently?  Yes, our life would have been different, and our influence would have been experienced by someone else.  Isn’t that the story portrayed in the 1946 movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life” starring James Stewart and Donna Reed?

We all make mistakes.  Someone is going to misunderstand your intentions.  Some mistakenly pull the rug out from under their own feet.  You may not understand the reason you made some decision that turned out bad rather than good.  Your bad mistakes aren’t so terrible that they will cause God to stop loving you.  His Son died to prove how much He does love you (John 3:16).  Besides, God uses those mistakes to benefit you and thousands of others.  Look how he used Paul’s decisions to benefit YOU!  If Jesus is in your decisions, then It’s a wonderful life after all!

IF GOD IS DWELLING IN ME!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, June 17, 2019

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? . . . for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”  (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 KJV).

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 KJV).

If God is dwelling in me, why do I wait until the dinner table, bedtime, or Sunday to talk with Him?

If God is dwelling in me, why do I think He is too far away to hear, know, or love me?

If God is dwelling in me, why do I feel He has vacated the premises because I am not perfect?

If God is dwelling in me, why does my culture and church tradition impress me with the idea that I must wear special clothing on Sunday to honor or respect Him when I arrive at a specific geographical address?  Am I not honoring or respecting Him on Monday?

If God is dwelling in me, why am I told I will enter into His presence when I arrive at a building that contains a “sanctuary” where He is located?

If God is dwelling in me, how can I stay in fellowship with Him when I am so void of perfection?

If God is dwelling in me, why do I need to visualize Him as being far off in heaven?  Why not understand that I am His and He resides IN and WITH me?

If God is dwelling in me, because He has bought me, why do I believe my imperfections immediately and completely void that purchase price and return me to Satan’s ownership?

If God is dwelling in me, why is that fellowship not more comforting?

If God is dwelling in me, what assurance is associated with that indwelling?

If God is dwelling in me, why do I believe my imperfections kick God out and they return me to Satan’s ownership and his indwelling?

If my imperfection ends God’s indwelling in me and I am returned to Satan’s ownership, wouldn’t that mean I also lose my citizenship titles/labels/designations and blessings?

If Satan indwells me, would I not belong to the one who is in me?

How can one have two masters if God is kicked out and Satan takes His place?

If God is no longer in me, how can I still be in Christ (be in his body, the church)?

If immersion in water put me in the body of Christ, how can I bypass that action if I am no longer IN Christ and want to get back in his body?

Does Jesus’ blood only remove an alien’s sinner’s sins so he may become a member of Jesus’ sinless body, but does not cleanse those committed by one who is aa member of that body?

If Jesus’ blood is insufficient in removing imperfections while one is IN Christ, wouldn’t that mean I must be bought from my sins over and over after each infraction?  Would the conclusion not be that Jesus shed his blood for alien sinners, not for those who are redeemed and IN his saved body of believers?

Paul was concerned about his flesh serving the law of sin even though he was serving the law of God with his mind (Romans 7:25)?  He considered himself a “wretched man” and wanted to know who could deliver him out of this predicament (verse 24).  He ends the chapter by saying Jesus is the answer to his sin problem!  He then informs the Roman audience, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (8:1).  He continues by informing all who will listen that he has “been made free from the law of sin and death” (8:2).  In verse 9 Paul reveals to the Roman saints that they “are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.”  He shows how that is possible.  The “Spirit of God dwells in you”!

God takes up his abode in each one He adds to the saved (Acts 2:41, 47.  We are His HOLY Temple.  He continues to remove all impurities and keeps us cleansed by His grace through the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:8-10; 2 Corinthians 5:21).  Rejoice!  Jesus has paid it all.

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